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Ladakh’s Tso Kar Wetland Complex accor

  Jan 10, 2021

Ladakh’s Tso Kar Wetland Complex accorded as Ramsar site status

 Q. What is the news? 

Recently, India has added Tso Kar Wetland Complex in Ladakh as its 42nd Ramsar site, a conservation status conferred by International Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Q. What is Tso Kar Wetland Complex?

  • The Tso Kar Basin is a high-altitude wetland complex, consisting of two principal waterbodies:
    • Startsapuk Tso, a freshwater lake of about 438 hectares to the south,
    • Tso Kar itself, a hypersaline lake of 1800 hectares to the north, situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh.
  • It is called Tso Kar, meaning white lake, because of the white salt efflorescence found on the margins due to the evaporation of highly saline water.
  • It is an A1 Category Important Bird Area (IBA) as per Bird Life International and a key staging site in the Central Asian Flyway.
  • The site is also one of the most important breeding areas of the near threatened Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) in India.
  • It is the major breeding area for Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps Cristatus), Bar-headed Geese (Anser Indicus), Ruddy Shelduck (Tadornaferruginea), Brown-headed Gull (Larus Bunocephalus), Lesser Sand-Plover (Charadrius Mongolus) and many other species.

Q. What is this Central Asian Flyway (CAF) concept?

  • Central Asian Flyway covers a large continental area of Eurasia between the Arctic and Indian Oceans and the associated island chains.
  • The Flyway comprises several important migration routes of waterbirds, most of which extend from the northernmost breeding grounds in the Russian Federation (Siberia) to the southernmost non-breeding (wintering) grounds in West and South Asia, the Maldives and the British Indian Ocean Territory.
  • It covers at least 279 populations of 182 migratory waterbird species, including 29 globally threatened species.

Q. What are the importance of Wetlands? 

  • Wetlands are defined as "lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic eco-systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water".
  • Wetlands provide a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fibre, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation.
  • They are, in fact, a major source of water and the main supply of freshwater comes from an array of wetlands which help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater.

Q. What is a Ramsar Site?

  • Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty adopted in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea.
  • It came into force for India on 1st February, 1982.
  • Those wetlands which are of international importance are declared as Ramsar sites.
  • The Convention’s mission is the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world.
  • The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference.
  • It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.
  • At present, two wetlands of India are in Montreux Record:
    • Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan) and
    • Loktak Lake (Manipur).